Mother's heartfelt plea to get 'her baby back'
North Carolina honors student Phylicia Barnes, 17, disappeared three days after Christmas.
January 17th, 2011
02:34 PM ET

Mother's heartfelt plea to get 'her baby back'

Editor's note: CNN anchor Don Lemon talks about how the mother of missing 17-year-old Phylicia Barnes made an emotional plea for her daughter's safe return.

I first heard about Phylicia Barnes on Twitter and Facebook over the holidays.  The North Carolina high school honor student had gone to visit her half sister in Baltimore and disappeared three days after Christmas.

Viewers were asking why they hadn't seen her story on CNN. I didn't have an answer for them. Unfortunately, I was on vacation and spending time with my family. But I immediately began to research her story. I found a few articles in the Baltimore papers but not much else.

In those reports, police speculated that the lack of national media response was because the 17-year-old is African-American. They were calling it Baltimore's version of  Natalee Holloway, the Alabama teenager who disappeared in Aruba. But still not much national attention was given.

Case of missing N.C. honor student still a mystery

So, when I returned to work, I asked my producers to reach out to Barnes' family and police in Baltimore. Both agreed to appear on CNN to answer questions.

I met Barnes' mother, Janice Sallis, shortly before we went on air. She gave me a long hug and thanked me for covering her daughter's disappearance on CNN. Her grief was palpable. I couldn't imagine how she was even able to get out of bed and travel to CNN and appear on national television. She said it was only through the grace of God that she was able to make it through the past few weeks, not knowing where her child was and whether she was even alive.

Sallis told me and anyone listening that she believes her daughter is still "with us." Sallis said she believes her daughter is alive but fears she is being tortured somewhere.

And in a surprising moment, Sallis turned to the camera and made a direct and emotional plea to anyone with information on her daughter's disappearance. It was stunning and sad to watch. But I'm glad she did it.

Although police suspect the teenager would have received more coverage if she were white, her mother didn't want to dwell on that aspect. She said at this point race and social issues weren't important to her. She just "wants her baby back."

Let's hope that happens.

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Filed under: Maryland • Missing Children • TV-CNN Newsroom
soundoff (258 Responses)
  1. justguessing

    Michael, please do not tell me this is another one of your interminable 'lunches'; Mom misses her not like in my case where my family had kids coming out their ears. Let's get this one home and no more step-sister visits without supervision.

    January 17, 2011 at 7:24 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Sherri W.W.#1~ILLinois

    I also think we sometimes miscalulate about these girls being old enough,at 17 or 18,to go off on their own,to do lots of things.I know I thought I was old enough then,but probably wasnt.I am sure I worried my parents,and they were older and not sure WHAT the rules should really be.For my kids~they were NOT allowed to take trips where they would be too far away from home.Today its even more dangerous to allow.Not that things cant happen near home,but still today,kids hv cell phones and need to keep in pretty constant contact with parents.There is plenty of time for them to "spread their wings"after they are a little older.

    January 17, 2011 at 7:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jim Brieske

      Sherri W.W.... I agree but in the end it's the 3 guys (and a young woman is involved) who took her who are at fault. They are using each other to alibi out.
      This scenerio is the only one that allows this case to go unsolved thus far. The simple fact is there were too many people there for nobody to have already given information to solve the case.

      January 17, 2011 at 8:34 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Faith At Work

    It's really not a time to be concerned about the color of Phylicia's skin or the media coverage the case has gotten. I feel we should all be praying for the safe return of this child to her family. i do have doubts about the sincerity of the half-sister & the company that she had to her home while having here 16 yr old sister visiting. If you're 28 yrs old, why in the world would you break the trust of your family & have her exposed to MEN of such "low character" (drinking, drugs, etc.). I don't blame the mother for not throing out blame @ the media~ If you need to pass blame (which at this point is fruitless); I say "What the heck was her 28 yr old sister thinking"??? Oh yeah, Blaming Obama... You're such an idiot!!! Get over it & it's "President Obama" to you!!!

    January 17, 2011 at 7:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jim Brieske

      Faith At Work. You are a real piece of work, aren't you? You want to attack me after I blamed that lousy incapable person Barack Obama. Furthermore, I have much more power than he does so I will address him and anyone else (except God) how I choose. That Dingleberry Obama had no right applying (campaigning) for president of the United States of America. He is unqualified.
      He has also been given plenty of opportunity to stop these animals from murdering. Since he refused to do as I said beginning months ago, maybe a large amount of women being killed by the NYC Serial Killer will change his defective liberal mind.
      How many women does it take 100 or 200? He is past 50 already. Secrets are being kept in the mayor's office. Wouldn't want to hurt tourism.

      January 17, 2011 at 10:55 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Faith At Work

    A few typos but you get my point!!! My prayers are with this entire family.

    January 17, 2011 at 7:56 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Sherri W.W.#1~ILLinois

    @denise~I have not heard too much lately,about what is going to happen to Zahra Bakers`parents! She was very young,and to think of all she had been thru,and still she could keep going.Her courage was so great! If only she had been lucky enough to have folks who were as proud of her as they should hv been~and if only she had asked someone for help! Too often it is someone right in the family hurting these really young ones.And,absolutely,there is WAY too much of these kids going missing!

    January 17, 2011 at 8:00 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Casie

    How can someone steal a child?! I'm so sick of this planet and all the crap that goes on. (Actually its not the poor planet's fault.) I can't off myself early because of family, but I shall happily depart this world when the time comes. (Now where are my Nikes?)

    January 17, 2011 at 8:08 pm | Report abuse |
  7. sigh

    sigh baltimore...most violent and dumbest city on the east coast.....
    And the blacks of baltimore are just as sick and perverted as the whites of alabama.

    January 17, 2011 at 8:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Judybee're an IDIOT and neded to crawl back under that rock you slithered out from under!!

      January 18, 2011 at 10:28 am | Report abuse |
    • Blkgirl_Baltimorian

      @ Sigh- “Nothing in the world is more dangerous than a sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” ~ Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.; from a violent, stupid, baltimorian...who likes to travel to Alabama. Have a blessed day! MUAH!!!!

      January 18, 2011 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Chitown

    This cannot be about race. I also knew about this story, for weeks now, from CNN. I also know who Shoshanna Johnson is...she wrote a book about her ordeal too! Isn'tnit crazy that I know both stories about these people? Can't he much of a race issue if you ask me. Maybe people just don't pay attention. If they did, they would have read the story of this missing girl weeks ago, just like I did.

    January 17, 2011 at 8:33 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Sherri W.W.#1~ILLinois

    @JimB~sorry but I cannot believe that,and we have to be careful about being too fast,and not giving convicted people tine for AN appeal~however not 20 yrs. worth of appeals either! Also remember,if our country was doing those sorts of things,we would be like many countries that we NEVER want to be like,in any way! I agree~we ARE too soft on major criminals,while sometimes too hard on minor ones.Keeps lots of people in jail while we pay their way.It goes back to the fact most of our state governments arent fuctioning well.Laying off police,fire,teachers,closing needed places for kids to go,instead of govenors stepping up to the plate, as they hv in Illinois and Oregon,and told the people the truth~if you want needed services,we have to raise taxes! The state and federal govt.congresses` all act like "Heavens~Taxes and Guns!~Why~we cant TOUCH those!"~Not if we want lots of campaign $ anyway! So WE all suffer while THEIR families hv money and health ins for all.A lot that just got voted in across the country ,need to be voted back OUT asap!

    January 17, 2011 at 8:43 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Sherri W.W.#1~ILLinois

    @JimB~I meant i couldnt believe about the other~as for that young girl~yes~there WERE too many folks around~and SOMEBODY knows where she is! I wd bet you are right about that.

    January 17, 2011 at 8:47 pm | Report abuse |
  11. SickOfIt

    Im so tired of the race issue....Its old people, and its borring. The most likely reason it was not covered is the age and no sign of foul play. She is going to be 18 and could have just walked away. If anyone wants bone chilling facts check out the FBI missing children site. Thousands of children go missing every year from all walks of life. We hardly hear about them because there are so many. The ones that make it to the news are odd or exceptional (in most instances) it is sad. Hopefully she is found alive, in good health, and unharmed.

    January 17, 2011 at 8:49 pm | Report abuse |
  12. mick

    its sad that this family is going through this tragedy. The thing is that the media will only pick and choose what they think will boost their numbers for ratings. Its doesn't matter what skin tone u r, we r all the same in gods eyes. When it comes to these killers that sit on death row for 10 plus yrs. They need to reduce that amount and start holding public executions to show that we r not playing games anymore. The way I see u kill someone u die the same way. Whether it was raping, killing, shooting whatever u die that way but in a slow manner. But this won't happen why because their will be someone out crying out saying were being inhumane and denying someone their free rites.this why the prisons are over filled, these thugs know they will get free room and board for life and not do a single thing to make a difference in ppls lives.

    January 17, 2011 at 8:57 pm | Report abuse |
  13. marquita

    I'll testify...we's alway bes usin tha race card. Sheeet! Thas how we's be gettin seen n stuff! Wake up white people, we's got it down!

    January 17, 2011 at 9:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • DinoHunter

      Ahahahahahahah NICE!!!!!

      January 17, 2011 at 9:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • MacMoon

      NOT FUNNY! White people like u should be the one's going missing. You racist whites study everything we(black people) do and try to imitate it.

      January 17, 2011 at 9:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • DinoHunter

      Your right thats why we make the crack and u smoje it....Have fun in the ghetto!!!!! Cartman singing voice 😉

      January 17, 2011 at 11:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeffision

      This white dude thinks that white people like you are disgusting and in need of psychological evaluation.

      January 18, 2011 at 2:03 am | Report abuse |
    • DinoHunter

      To me its hilarious that people still get upset about this crap. Heres my point. I am an African American male. I received my doctoral degree in 2007. I have traced my heratige back to the slave trade and know more about my roots than most will. I was born in a depressed area in Washington State, and love it, have never done a drug, nor will I. People the words that are written are words. Our futures are how we write them are pasts are gone. The young man who wrote the first comment in this section made a funny statement. If we are not able to laugh at ourselves then whom may we laugh at. Do you think Dr. King would have a grill? No! Or any of this vrap you see on TV. No, I do not think so. Let it go people if its funny laugh, its ok, I promise it wont hurt. The only people that even care about jokes like this are the ones that are the most scared. Think about it hard people its a worthwhile topic. Oh and the PHD, Paleontology.......

      January 18, 2011 at 2:33 am | Report abuse |
  14. Sherri W.W.#1~ILLinois

    Its like with Nat H.~if that maniac had been kept under lock and key,that other young girl would be alive today. Thats also a reason why I wd not allow a teenager to go to another country,where laws can be spotty at best.Most of the time here,they lock someone up pretty fast if they can show that they were with the person right before they vanished~tho not always,like in Zahra Bakers case.I am sure they want to know they hv a case before they arrest somebody,but it gives these people time to do other things sometimes. I still hope we can all be better,in the memory of Christina~Taylor Green,and never forget what her innocent beliefs cost her~just wanted to meet a lady that she might want to be like someday.So MUCH innocence lost,whether that way or these girls going missing,and I think this country is better than to keep allowing it all to go on!

    January 17, 2011 at 9:07 pm | Report abuse |
  15. marquita

    Hey Black momma, STFU! Race, race,race...people like you that always pull the race card make me sick of my own kind!

    January 17, 2011 at 10:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • MacMoon

      Still NOT FUNNY! Learn to love yourself and stop trying to imitate your stereotype of black people.

      January 17, 2011 at 10:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeffision

      If you can say this to a woman who doesn't know the whereabouts of her child, I think you need some help.

      January 18, 2011 at 2:01 am | Report abuse |
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